The Real Deal: Brandon Callenius

By Leah Vanden Bosch

Images by Elizabeth Lucille Photography

Tis the season for spooks and scares, and Jaycees’ Haunted House is serving the Sioux Falls community  enough horror and fright to terrify even the most courageous participant. The attraction has been open for business for over 25 years, with its start in an abandoned house on Minnesota Avenue. Project advisor Brandon Callenius has divulged some of this year’s plans, anticipating the fright factor will top anything previously done. With not one, but two houses filled with terror, Jaycees’ Haunted House is an attraction to take in this Halloween season…if you dare.

What is Jaycees’ purpose as an organization, and what is their function within the community throughout the year?

Brandon Callenius: Jaycees represents Junior Chamber. It is a nationwide organization that was founded to create young leaders and professionals through business ventures and volunteering, leading projects such as the Haunted House. Throughout the year, the Jaycees focus on community development, hosting casino nights for holiday parties, filling sandboxes in the spring, and putting on the Fourth of July fireworks display for the Sioux Falls community to enjoy. Jaycees’ Haunted House is the biggest fundraiser of the year, with its proceeds going back into the organization’s event fund. We’re also offering a $2.00 discount on tickets when participants bring canned goods, with all donations going towards Sioux Falls Food Pantry.

What goes into the preparation for the Haunted House?

BC: It takes over a month to set up the Haunted House to the scale that we do now. We have been located at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds for the past 15 years, moving into the fine arts building on September 1st. Anyone from the community may volunteer in both the setup and production of the Haunted House. Some of our volunteers are members of Jaycees, but the majority are locals from the community who want to come out and have a good time scaring the pants off people. For a lot of our volunteers, the fairgrounds is their home away from home for the month of October.

We have so many amazing sponsors who we can’t thank enough. The majority of supplies and materials have been donated. Along with the typical costumes and haunted house props, we have a claw foot bathtub used in our setup, as well as a burned upright piano that was salvaged from a house fire. We’ve acquired some pretty unique items throughout the years, adding a lot of character to the attraction.

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